An Overview Of This Year’s Annual Town Meeting

The following was submitted by Ellen Harde. To submit your own content, e-mail [email protected]

Town Meeting Pic

2015 Special Town Meeting.

Timeline for the Annual Town Meeting Saturday April 2nd
Ellen Harde, Moderator

Any registered voter may attend Town Meeting, address the meeting and vote.  The meeting will begin promptly at 10 am at the Abbot School on Saturday morning and will continue for the entire day.  There is no quorum requirement for Westford’s Annual Town Meeting to convene.

Non-voters are welcome to come and sit at the rear of the gym, and may address the meeting if two-thirds of the voters agree.  There is no way to vote absentee at a town meeting.

Decisions will be made on a  $113.8 million operating budget and $3 million of capital expenditures. Voters will also be asked to decide whether or not to sell the former Town Farm building, spend $1 million of Community Preservation funds, amend the Sign Bylaw, fund the reconstruction of Main Street from Depot Street to Tadmuck Road, amend restrictions on the former Drew Farms land on Boston Road to allow a farm-to-table restaurant, and fund engineering plans and construction of pedestrian and traffic improvements in Westford Center.

There are twenty-seven Articles, or items of business, and we will take them up in order. Any voter may ask the meeting to take an Article out of order. That motion requires a majority vote to pass.

A complete list of the Articles and an explanation of the effect of accepting or rejecting each one are included in the “Finance Committee Report and Recommendations,” that has just been mailed to every household. The Report is also on the 2016 Annual Town Meeting page of the town’s website.

If the voters agree, following Article 6 four of the twenty-seven Articles will be on a Consent Agenda to be considered as one motion with no debate. If any voter asks that any Article be removed from the Consent Agenda, it will be.

The proposed Articles for the Consent Agenda are Article 14 to accept State money for road maintenance; Article 15 to transfer Water Department funds; Article 16 to approve a tax exemption for the blind, elderly and disabled, and Article 18 to authorize the Selectmen to accept easements.

To better understand the town meeting process, the League of Women Voters of Westford’s “Guide to Town Meeting” is very useful and is on the  Town website. The J.V. Fletcher Library has copies of “Town Meeting Time: A Handbook of Parliamentary Law.”

At 12:15, the School Committee will present the Gordon B. Seavey Award, followed by a lunch break. Sandwiches and salads from Paul’s Diner will be for sale in the Abbot cafeteria.

At 1:15 pm, the meeting resumes. We will continue until we have voted on all the Articles, or, if there are still Articles to be discussed and voted, we will adjourn between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. and then reconvene on Monday April 4 at the Abbot.

There are many decisions to be made about funding the Town for the coming year. Who will make these decisions? Hopefully, it will be you. Democracy is not a spectator sport.